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March 22, 2009
PALM HARBOR, FLORIDA
DOUG MILNE: We welcome Retief Goosen, 2009 Transitions Championship winner. Quite the dramatic story of the week. With the win, you pick up 500 FedExCup points, moving up to fifth on the list.
RETIEF GOOSEN: That's nice.
DOUG MILNE: Let's start with some general comments on the day. I know you're glad it's over.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it was tough today. Today was more windy than yesterday, so it was a bit more tricky. Didn't get off to a good start today like I did the first three rounds. I parred the first and made a good bogey on the second. I've been struggling on the second hole all week. So I don't really know why. It's not that a tough hole.
Obviously the chip-in on 9 sort of settled me down, and I thought, okay, I'm not doing too bad now. I think at that stage I was two off the lead. And obviously 11, I hit a great drive again, just like yesterday. Hit a 5-iron, I don't know, 20 feet, and holed a good putt there.
Then I was tied for the lead. I thought to myself, if I can get in at 9-under, that could possibly be good enough. But at the end, 8-under was good enough.
Q. As you work your way back toward where you think you ought to be, how meaningful is it to win, having not won here; I think The INTERNATIONAL was your last one.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it's great. Eventually you wonder if you can still do it. I did win in Malaysia in November, and I won in South Africa in January. So at least I've won some events in the last few months. I have a bit of a feeling of winning again. Although they are not big events, I've beat some good players.
Yeah, you can just keep trying. It's great to be able to be in that position and to actually pull it off. Coming down the stretch, those last few holes are tough. I made a great up-and-down on 17. 18, that putt was so quick. I was trying to leave it short, and you just can't leave it short. I hit a good putt coming back. It was nice to roll that in (smiling).
Q. What was the read on it? What did you see on that 5-footer?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Not much. That's the thing. You would always like to have a feeling of a putt maybe moving in a certain way, but I just couldn't see anything. I hit it dead straight, and it went in left half. It was great to see that putt go in. The greens got scary.
Down those last few holes, they were definitely getting like Shinnecock was. You just cannot hit them soft enough, that place. It was really tough.
Q. You're going to like your chances anywhere to just need a par to win a golf tournament; but just how difficult was it, that final par at 18?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, 18 was a hard hole. It's one of the great courses on the PGA TOUR, this course. It shows it by the score. The guys work hard to shoot under par.
18, yeah, it's a tough drive. Just aimed it at the right and hit a good drive off the right. I didn't strike it that good, but it went where I wanted it to go.
Then I was a little bit stuck in-between clubs. 8-iron wasn't enough and 7-iron gets me past the hole. Well, you can't hit it short there, and I hit a nice 7-iron straight over the flag, and yeah, made two putts.
Q. I'm curious why you can't, if it's so fast coming down the hill, why you can't hit it short there.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Then I'm in the bunker. (Laughter).
Q. I was talking about the throat of the green.
RETIEF GOOSEN: 8-iron, especially into the wind, if 8-iron gets into that wind, it comes up short in that bunker and plugs.
I would rather take my chances from down the hill there, just try and hit a nice 7-iron. I hit it well and it went right through the wind and went a little bit long.
But you know, I wasn't trying to hit it close. I just wanted to make sure I hit a good shot in there and give myself a chance at the ball.
Q. How buried was the ball on 17, the chip?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it was a bad lie. It was one of those chips that you know, it could come up totally dead on you, or it could just come up fiery. I played it as good as I could play it. I hit a pretty good chip shot -- what are the other holes -- the par 5 here, No. 5. I hit my second shot into a divot, and my third shot was playing out of a divot and I got it over the back and got a similar chip and didn't play it as good. I probably knocked it six feet past and made the putt there for par.
That chip on 17 was tough. Anything could have happened there. I think that pretty much won me the tournament. Getting up-and-down there, I think felt -- I didn't want to go up 18 thinking that I needed a birdie to win. Par is what you want going up 18 to try and win.
Q. Did you know where you stood on the last three holes?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I knew 7-under was in. So I knew that the two guys in front of me, I knew they couldn't get to 8, so I knew 7-under was the score to beat.
Q. In the last couple of years, you got better with your fitness I guess and you experimented with different putters. Was there a low point at all where you kind of said you needed to make some changes? Do you recall what that was or when that occurred or was it just sort of a gradual?
RETIEF GOOSEN: You know, beginning of last year, I was looking at myself in the mirror thinking, I look a bit out of shape. I just thought, you know, might as well try and turn everything around.
Started working very hard in the gym. I was in the gym this morning for one hour working out. So I might as well, instead of getting totally out of shape and struggling, I thought I might as well be fit and struggling. (Laughter) So I'd rather feel better about myself.
But I worked hard this December. I pretty much hit balls almost every day this December. I didn't have much of a holiday. Played a few events in South Africa, which I won the South African Open. My whole game started getting a little bit better. It's just a matter of getting a bit more consistency going. This week, I played consistent.
Q. Was it all parts of your game, or one specific that you really felt was letting you down?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Putting mainly. A few weeks ago I was trying the belly putter, and in a way, maybe that was a good training aid; putting three events with that putter, just getting a different look at how to stroke the ball and getting your shoulders to work a bit differently.
Then when I had my week off before last week, I went back to the short putter and back to my old putter, as well, that I won the U.S. Opens with. Pretty much all of the tournaments I won, I won on that putter. So it seems to be behaving again.
Q. TV said you were 55 of 55 on putts five feet and shorter.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Almost sounds like Tiger Woods, doesn't it. (Laughter).
Q. Used to.
RETIEF GOOSEN: On greens like this, you need to putt well. You look at stats this week; the guy that putted the best is pretty much the winner. That's what I did this week, I putted pretty well.
Q. Struggling a few weeks ago and now perfect.
RETIEF GOOSEN: That's how this game goes. And also playing on a golf course you like helps. You see the shots well; or I see it well.
Like Bay Hill, I've never played really well around Bay Hill because I don't feel as comfortable on that course as I do around this course. But although I have finished third or something before in Bay Hill. But no, I'm look forward to Bay Hill this week.
Q. Which is your dominant eye?
RETIEF GOOSEN: The right eye.
Q. You made the Shinnecock analogy a little while ago. Is that just coincidence, or are you just really good on greens that get like this and like they were there, because you obviously had a phenomenal final round putting there, too.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I don't know what it is. When the greens get so crusty and fast, you know, the ball for some reason, I just tend to be able to control my stroke better on these quicker putts than on putts where I feel like I have to hit it.
When I feel like I can just make a very smooth stroke and the ball will get to the hole, I seem to make a better stroke. I think if I putted on greens like this all year long, I think I'll enjoy it.
Q. Does winning at 40 feel any different than winning in your 30s, winning a TOUR event?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I feel better now than I've felt for a very long time. I'm definitely fitter now than -- probably the last time I was this fit was when I was in the army. So I feel pretty good about myself.
Q. I thought you only drove the bus in the army. (Laughter).
RETIEF GOOSEN: Sometimes. But I did run around, too, you know.
Q. Just back to the eye thing, is there any coincidence of just having had it done to seeing things clearer?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I had my right eye lasered a couple weeks ago. My left eye is still a little bit -- I started off with a contact lens in the left eye this morning and didn't really help, so I took it out after about six holes. So I'm sort of playing on one eye at the moment.
Q. Have you done that before, played with one eye? Had the contact out as you played?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No, I haven't, no. My left eye is not that bad. It's only .25. It's not that bad that I can't see out of it at all.
Q. Is it the wind that irritates it?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I don't know what it is. But I think I won't be trying the contacts again.
Q. Last week you had the great start at Doral, and then tapered off.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, it was disappointing. I like Doral. I don't know what happened there. I played so great in the first round, and then for my second round, I chipped it into the water on the third hole and made 7 there, and that sort of just, end of tournament for me. I don't know why. The rest of the week, nothing happened.
I was quite mad at myself, because I didn't feel like I was playing as bad as I was scoring. And then we had the Tavistock Cup Monday and Tuesday, which I actually putted pretty nicely in the Tavistock Cup. I made a lot of putts.
So coming here, I knew my putting was good. I knew I just needed to strike the ball a bit better and I did today, and this whole week. I feel comfortable on the course, and I think that's always going to help me a lot.
Q. Is it an aim of yours; it was a couple of years ago when you were part of the big three, four, five, whatever it was.
RETIEF GOOSEN: You guys made it up. I don't know.
Q. I know that. But you were such a fixture amongst the top four for a good two, three, four years there. Can you get back to there?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I see no reason. I always keep reminding myself, Vijay started playing his best golf when he turned 40. So I'm looking forward to the next five years.
Q. Is your ball flight appreciably different now than it was?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It's shorter, that's for sure. (Laughter).
It's definitely not as long as it used to be. I think I'm a hundred-and-whatever now in driving distance now on TOUR. When I first came out on the Tour in Europe, I was the longest hitter, and now I'm a hundred-something. So I'm definitely not hitting it as far as I used to hit it.
But a golf course like this, it's not all about length. It's really accuracy and iron playing into these greens.
Q. Do you work on mostly right-to-left now?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, I'm trying to draw most of the time.
Q. Do you feel like you're 100th, and how did that happen?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It was just a hundred other guys hitting it further than me. I don't know, it's so bunched up now.
Q. But do you feel like you're hitting shorter or a lot of other kids are hitting farther; that many more are hitting farther?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I think guys are hitting further, yeah. I don't think in general the ball or anything is going further. Just the clubs with the technology, I think even the shorter hitters can find a club maybe now that gets them a better flight than it used to, maybe get the ball to run up more, or just a better flight into the wind. So there's pretty much a club out there now for any guy, even shorter hitters, to get a bit of yardage on it. But sometimes on the holes where they do the driving distance on, I might be hitting a 3-wood and other guys meeting hitting driver.
Q. I was just curious on the 18th, obviously you showed a lot of resiliency at Southern Hills years ago, but I know it's a fast putt downhill, but when you're telling yourself, just leave it short of the hole and all of a sudden you're looking and you have five feet coming back.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I wasn't trying to leave it short of the hole. I would rather have five feet coming back than two feet down the hill on that green. I was obviously trying to roll it down just to a tap-in, but it is just so quick, I don't think I can leave it short.
Q. Did you have to compose yourself at all?
RETIEF GOOSEN: It was disappointing to hit it that far past. I didn't want to have another U.S. Open there.
I felt good with my putting, and you know, I wasn't too much indecision with the one coming back. I made up my mind and just tried to focus on making a good stroke, and it was nice to see it go in.
Q. Was there some question in your mind as it rolled?
RETIEF GOOSEN: No. When it took off, I felt like I made a good stroke. When I looked up, it just went in.
Q. You hit a good one on 16, too, didn't you?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, 16, I hit a poor second. I had a 6-iron and I'm trying to hit a little cut 6-iron in there down into the trap. Hit a poor bunker shot and left it eight feet right of the hole. Hit a good putt but misread it. I knew if I can get through 16 with a par, you know, I had a good chance. But making bogey there, I knew 17, 18, wasn't going to be easy.
And where the pin was on 17, I knew I couldn't carry it with a 3-iron, the bunker. I had to hit it up down the left there in the middle of the green where Tom made his long putt from. I tried to hit a high 5-wood in there and let the wind hold it up a bit. Really, it was only about three yards away from being a really good shot.
Q. What was so good about the bogey on 2?
RETIEF GOOSEN: I drove it just in the rough on the left and had a bad lie and I just chopped it out with a wedge. Left myself 80 yards, then hit it over the green and chipped it probably five yards past the hole and made the putt for five.
So that could have been a very quick six, so making five there was very important. From there on, I played just solid, and then on 9, I actually drove it in the fairway trap behind the trees and I had to cut a 6-iron around and overdone it a bit, and just went over the green in the back and chipped and run it with a 6-iron down the hill into the hole.
DOUG MILNE: And the eagle on 11.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Hit a good drive there just like yesterday. Yesterday I had a big drive from about 340 yards and today I think I drove it the same, 340 yards. I hit a 5-iron to about 20 feet. Made the putt.
DOUG MILNE: Retief, congratulations and best of luck at Bay Hill.
End of FastScripts